A geographical indication is a geographical name signifying that a product originates in a country or a specific locality. Recently, geographical indication (GIs) emerged as one of the most important instrument of protecting quality, reputation or other character of goods essentially attributable to their geographical origin.
It is valuable to providence, a ‘source identifier’ and indicator of quality. GI helps to promote its goods “eligible for relief from acts of infringement and/or unfair competition”.
The concern shown by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) gave new impetus to protection of GIs. According to the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications “a geographical indication is best protected under trademark and unfair competition law. Trademark having acquired in good faith had to be protected against conflicting geographical indications.”
Protection of GI prevent third parties from passing off their products as those originating in the given region. Famous examples are ‘Champagne’ for sparkling wine and ‘Roquefort’ for cheese from areas of these names in France or ‘Darjeeling’ for tea from this district in India. It is not necessary for these indications to be geographical names as in the case of ‘Feta’ for cheese from Greece or ‘Basmati’ for rice from India and Pakistan as there are no places, localities or regions with these names.
Plant varieties developed with traditional knowledge and associated with a particular region can also be protected as geographical indications. The advantage in such protection is that it is not time-limited. However, needless to say, commercial benefits can be derived from the protection of geographical indications only when the name becomes reasonably famous.